McClatchy’s Walcott Wins Inaugural I.F. Stone Medal

By: E&P Staff

McClatchy’s Washington Bureau Chief John Walcott will receive the inaugural I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence, it was announced Thursday by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.

Walcott, who was also Washington bureau chief for Knight-Ridder before the McClatchy takeover in 2006, is being honored for his work in the months before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. “Walcott … [led] his team of reporters in their probing, skeptical coverage of events during the run-up to the Iraq war at a time when most U.S. news organizations failed to question the motives and rationale for the invasion of Iraq,” said a statement from the Nieman Foundation.

The I.F. Stone Medal, established earlier this year by the Nieman Foundation, “will be presented annually to a journalist whose work captures the spirit of independence, integrity and courage that characterized I.F. Stone?s Weekly, published 1953-1971,” according to the Nieman Foundation’s statement.

Walcott and two of his reporters, Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel, were recognized for producing a series of articles in 2002, that “refuted the Bush administration?s claims about the need for war and exposed the serious reservations many intelligence, Foreign Service and military officers had about the rush to invade Iraq.”

Walcott himself has been extremely critical of much of the media in the run-up to the Iraq War. When addressing the World Affairs Council in 2007, he said, “There was simple laziness: Much of what the administration said, especially about Iraq and Al Qaeda, simply made no sense, yet very few reporters bothered to check it out. They were stenographers; they were not reporters.”

The award will be presented at the Newseum in Washington D.C. on October 7. It will be followed by a workship on journalistic independence and what can be learned from the work of Knight-Ridder’s team.

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